The tricky balances of KPL survival

first_imgMathare United, Western Stima, Thika United and Muhoroni Youth are dangling dangerously with Thika and Muhoroni occupying the bottom two automatic relegation slots while above them, Stima and Mathare are looking to avoid the drop, only two points shy.-Muhoroni Youth-Muhoroni Youth, with a match at hand are placed bottom with 25 points, six away from safety and their current form is not convincing at all that they can pull in from deep their energy reserves to pick at least nine out of the available 15 points to survive.The sugar belt side, engulfed in financial difficulty and a huge coaching turnover have won only five matches this season and just two in the last 15 games. They have the league’s worst goal aggregate, having conceded a whooping 41 goals in 29 matches and scored only 22.Their five-year stay in the top flight will be cut short if they lose their next three matches, beginning Wednesday afternoon when they play Bandari FC at their Muhoroni Complex. A loss against the Sugar Millers, coupled by a win by the teams above them will be catastrophic.Looking at their next three fixtures, Muhoroni are in for a fight. After Bandari, they play Kariobangi Sharks in Nairobi over the weekend, then Sony Sugar in Awendo, Mathare United in Nairobi and finish the season against AFC Leopards at home.Sharks, Sony and AFC Leopards are all angling to finish the season in the top eight and of the three, only Kariobangi Sharks are currently wrapped up in that bracket.-Thika United-Thika United coach Nicholas Muyoti.Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYANicholas Muyoti took charge from James Nandwa midway through the season after deputizing the experienced tactician since last season. Now, Muyoti, a retired Kenyan international has the biggest task of his young managerial career, ensuring Thika remains in top flight.Placed 18th with 29 points, two away from safety, fate is out of their hands. In their final four games, they will not be facing any of the teams fighting relegation.On Wednesday afternoon, they will be at home to Sony Sugar at the Thika Sub-County Stadium, then play away to deposed champions Tusker FC over the weekend, before facing Zoo Kericho and Bandari FC in the final two games of the season.Muyoti has called on his unit to put in a fight and collect at least three wins from the remaining four matches and hope the lucky stars align in their favor.Just like Muhoroni, Thika have struggled this season, winning only five games out of 30 outings, their last victory being a slim 1-0 conquest over Kariobangi Sharks at home on the first day of last month.What has been worrying is their goal scoring form having hit the back of the net only 23 times, the second joint least in the league. Muyoti has admitted this has been their biggest undoing, partly blaming it on the absence of Nigerian forward Onwudi Chibueze.“We have been forced to use midfield and wide players as central strikers and it has not been easy. I know if we can make our chances count, we will remain in the league,” Muyoti said after his side’s draw with Mathare United in their last match.They have scored four goals over the last match and if they are to remain in the league, then the stat has to improve.-Western Stima-Western Stima defender Ouma goes in for a challenge against Gor Mahia’s Teddy Osok in a KPL Under-20 Championship match at the Camp Toyoyo Ground on December 19, 2016.PHOTO/Timothy OlobuluWestern Stima face Gor Mahia on Wednesday afternoon in the beginning of their four-game journey to destiny. Stima beat Gor 2-1 in the first leg and hope to repeat the same feat again, something that would inject some much needed confidence.Their last win, a 3-1 victory over Sofapaka gave them a boost to engage in the battle for survival with all arsenal. After Gor, they will take on Ulinzi Stars at home over the weekend, then travel to Nairobi to play Posta Rangers before closing their season away to Chemelil Sugar on November 18.Ugandan coach Richard Makumi has done well since being appointed in September, losing only one match against Sony Sugar, winning two and drawing three. But the job is far from done.With two wins in the remaining four games, Stima will almost 100 percent assure themselves of safety.The powermen have struggled this season after losing most of their key players in January. KPL’s Most Valuable Player last season, Kenneth Muguna left for Gor Mahia alongside defender Joash Onyango who skippered the team last season.Dennis Sikhayi and Gabriel Andika left for AFC Leopards, further pulling aside the pillars that held the team together in 2016.Former coach Henry Omino who has now been redeployed as technical director was left building the team with youngsters, and just like Sofapaka last season found it tough, the team spending most of their time in the basement this season.-Mathare United-Mathare United head coach Francis Kimanzi. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYAAnother coach who has learnt the hard way that you cannot send boys to do a man’s job is Francis Kimanzi. The tactician also having lost several key players at the close of the season chose to go for youngsters in the transfer market and the decision has had an effect on his side.The 2008 champions have struggled for form though there have been individual shining lights including striker Chris Oduor who has scored 10 goals this season and provided four assists.Kimanzi though remains confident that the team is learning the hard way and has insisted there is no cause for panic that the team will head down the relegation drain.“I don’t think there should be any cause for alarm because the players are aware of the situation they are in and know what it takes to go up. But the most important thing is their development which has been great so far,” an upbeat Kimanzi said.Mathare are placed 15th with 31 points, same as Sofapaka and lie in danger of sipping down the standings.They begin their home stretch on Wednesday afternoon with a tie away to Sofapaka in Nakuru, a side they have beaten only three times in 17 attempts. Their last win was a huge a 5-2 result against the 2009 champions amidst their struggles last season.After the Sofapaka match in Narok, Mathare will take on Nzoia Sugar in Bungoma this Sunday before playing another relegation struggler Muhoroni Youth in Nairobi and wind up the season away to Posta Rangers.With two wins out of those five games, Kimanzi’s men will ease their relegation fears with fate cleanly in their hands.0Shares0000(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today) 0Shares0000Muhoroni Youth head coach James ‘Odijo’ Omondi. Photo/RAYMOND MAKHAYANAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 1- With four matches remaining before the end of the season, four teams are engulfed in a mother of all fights for survival with the relegation axe waiting to wield, and in the least, two of them will be chopped down to the National Super League (NSL).At the moment, the teams which finish in the bottom two slots of the 18-team top tier league are sure to be relegated while there is still a push and pull over a suggested play-off between the 16th placed team in the Kenyan Premier League and the third placed team in the NSL.last_img

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